6 Reader Questions With American MotoGP Champ Nicky Hayden

We Pose Your Questions to the American MotoGP Champion

Nicky Hayden
The Kentucky Kid Nicky Hayden sits down with Zack Courts in the MC Garage to talk racing and answer questions from the Motorcyclist Facebook page.Brian Hatano

We asked our loyal Facebook fans to post their best questions for 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden. Here's what you came up with:

» Jeffrey Roy Cayanan Villamil asks: Do you have a pre-race ritual?
Nicky Hayden: I have a routine, for sure. I mean, I normally eat at the same time, do the same warm-up, the same stretch, go through the same things with my team, for the most part. I have a routine but no certain dance or voodoo or anything like that. But if I think something will help me… I'm a little bit superstitious; my dad was very superstitious. So if I had a good warm-up in the morning, I might want to make sure I wore that same helmet or the same gloves. Or if there was a certain song on the iPod before warm-up I might make sure that was on repeat while I'm suiting up. We [racers] will try anything if we think it'll make us faster.

Nicky Hayden
Nicky Hayden was the leading Open class Honda at the Czech Grand Prix .Photo: Aspar Team

» Kishore D.B. Singham wants to know: How much has your riding style changed to suit the current generation of RCs compared to your 2006 championship-winning bike?
NH: For sure, things changed a lot, especially with the Bridgestone tires. At that point [2006] we were using Michelins, and with the Bridgestones the braking changed a lot, especially how late you could brake into the corner and use the front tire even more; that was their strong point. And the way it needed load; you needed to stay on the brake to help it turn. I would say that's the biggest thing, more related to the tire than the actual bike. At that time there weren't many electronics, so you could steer more with the rear and use the gas to turn the bike, which now doesn't happen as much. You can, in the right situation, but not as much.

» James Koch asked: What do you think about motorcycle culture in general and the bad attitude that people sometimes associate with it?
NH: Well, I think motorcycle culture is great! I love it. I mean, I grew up with bikes. It's in my blood, and I love it. There are, I guess, some stereotypes, you know, when I was a kid and would tell the teacher I'm taking off school to go race a motorcycle, that wasn't a good way to get on the teacher's good side! It's a shame, though, because sometimes the only time motorcycles are front-page news is for something bad. I guess it's like anything; you've got to take the good with the bad.

» Will France wants to know: How do you feel about being the only American in MotoGP?
NH: Well, in one regard I feel a lot of privilege and a lot of excitement and want to do a good job for my country, and I definitely feel a lot of support. On the other hand I wish we had more Americans now, not just in GP but on all world levels. So, that's something, in the future, that I want to help do, especially when I'm done, is help develop young talent and give kids the opportunity because we're definitely in a low spot. It wasn't long ago that Americans were dominating, so hopefully it won't be too long before that happens again.

Nicky Hayden
Nicky Hayden at the recent British GP at Silverstone.Photo: Aspar Team

» Scott Koenig asks: If you had to choose one kind of racing of all the different types you have done, which one would you choose?
NH: I like GP. People think, "Aww, it's just 'cause the money's better," but truthfully I love the stage; I love the international level. I mean, if I had one race to race, it probably would be Peoria TT. But I like GPs because I like going against the international riders. I like the excitement of it, the prestige. I don't know. I've ridden a lot of kinds of motorcycles; I've ridden motocross, flat track, enduro, trials, and I've yet to find one I don't really like.

» Sky Azrael asks: Would you ever come back to America to race?
NH: Well, I don't know what's going to happen down the road. This season will be my 13th year in GP. I love racing at the highest level, in the deepest waters, on the best bikes, on the best tracks, but we'll see. My dirt-track career, you know, I do have a little bit of unfinished business there, to try to win a mile. But I'm realistic too! I know the longer I'm away… It's going to get harder. I've spent some time this winter doing some flat track with some Grand National guys and relit a little bit of fire to see that my dirt-track speed hadn't gotten too far away from me, so it was nice to see that. Riding a mile is a completely different game, but, yeah, we'll see what happens down the road. Anything's possible. I would say my interest in flat track never really went away. That was my first love, but I don't regret going roadracing. I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to go, and see the world, and be a world champion. But still, that grand slam is something that does haunt me—trying to win a Short-Track, TT, Half-Mile, and Mile.